I called up the county car pool number and got set up with three other people to start a car pool and I can't say enough good things about that experience: it's very therapeutic, like having your daily support group. It also forces you to be efficient with your time because you always leave at a fixed time. Most employers and coworkers won't give you a hard time because you're doing the "right" thing.
On days I couldn't car pool (rare) I listened to books on tape. My favorite was "Tale of two cities."
I'm glad those days are over, though, now I have a 20 min bike ride along the Willamette.
"[Commuting] correlates with an increased risk of obesity, divorce, neck pain, stress, worry, and sleeplessness."
"Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia."
I'm suspicious of this sort of research for lots of reasons, but concerns about the direction of causality is pretty low on my list in this case.
Poor decision making skills. Excepting possibly neck pain (and even then I could work it in), that could underlie them all, and there's a certain amount of evidence to suggest things like willpower and discipline exist as at least statistically-distinct entities, even if you can't quite point at the willpower organ.
In this particular case, it's easy to imagine how a long commute could cause obesity, divorce, and neck pain; it's very hard to imagine how the causality could run the other way, or what a common cause might be.
The rule could stand to be taken with a grain of common sense.
On the contrary, a (mind that: possible) common cause is even suggested in the article itself: "Perhaps long-distance commuters tend to be poorer or less educated, both conditions that make divorce more common."
Correlation != causation.
It is not right either. It is just boring.
Correlation is a starting point, not an ending point.
I have a 30-40 minute commute each way from the burbs to SF.
I end up reading interesting books, sketching ideas, or sometimes pop out the laptop to do some quick work.
The savings on rent by living in the 'burbs is a decent tradeoff for having more expendable income for my hobbies.
I have a hard time reading at home, with so many distractions (computer/internet being the main one). If I were to reduce my commute, I fear I wouldn't read as much.
Maybe I'm just rationalizing my long commute, though. I should look into living closer to work, and deliberately blocking distraction-free time for reading at home, on a comfortable couch. But it would cost me 700€/month more than my current arrangement, and I don't know where my next gig will be located.
That said, I don't mind taking the bus sometimes because it does give me time to think, write, or read. The only thing I don't like about it is being beholden to a schedule.
Funny thing is I kind of miss the longer commute. Sometimes after work I will take an extra 30 minutes on my bike by taking the long way home. How many times do you hear a car commuter say that?
Previously I had a 30 minute each way commute by bike, with most of it along a river. I really miss that commute. Watching the seasons change, the different critters come and go, riding faster than the commuters stuck in traffic and feeling really 'connected' to the city. And 2-3 times a week i'd take a longer way home just to get a little more enjoyment out of the commute.
Just having the option of not taking the train is a relief sometimes. If it's a beautiful day out, i'll take the bicycle in and get a wonderful start to the day. If it's a little rainy or I'm wrapped up in a book, I'll take the train and get some more reading time.
Also, having an iPad has made the train much more enjoyable.
When I first started that job the commute was ~45minutes to 1 hour each way. Over the years, as the city grew, the transit time started going up. Then all of a sudden, some sort of critical mass hit one year and the roads became absolutely jammed to the point that my commute was 2-3 hours each way.
I went through something like the 7 stages of grief, especially 6 or 7 months of intense "anger" then "bargaining" -- manifest as an endless trying of new routes. Even longer routes were considered more optimal if I was able to stay above 45mph for some percentage of the trip.
When I finally did get to work, I'd lock my self in my office for a couple hours, unable to get any work done, but decompressing from the commute. It killed my productivity.
The worst was the caged animal feeling. Most days I was bored out of my skull, the radio had nothing interesting to listen to, I had exhausted my music library, I started reading books on the way in. But eventually I started behaving like a prisoner stuck in solitary confinement so intense that I wasn't allowed to even stand for 6 hours a day.
The end point was not exactly stage 7 "Acceptance" but instead manifested in a Zen-like turning off of my brain while in transit. I literally could not recall a single thing along the route from my home to work. Sometimes I would arrive at work with a hot coffee in hand, no recollection of ever having picked one up.
In the end I switched jobs for one with a "mere" 1 hour commute (at highway speeds) and never looked back. It was revelatory. Immediately, accumulated stress started to drip away. Constant headaches turned into every-so-oftens, my memory started improving, my mood changed for the positive, my health started picking up.
Lots of people suggested I move in closer, or carpool, or some other method of changing things. But in the end, I didn't like any of the areas I could afford closer in, and nobody in my area carpooled to within a 30 minute walking distance to my employer.
I eventually left that job and have a 15-30 minute drive every day (depending on traffic) and wouldn't look back. I've had offers to go back to that original job at a significantly higher position than I hold now and turned them down flat (unless they had an office out my way I could work from).
I have to agree that my commute was literally killing me, and I advise lots of people not to get into a situation like that if they can help it.
Personally, my bike commute makes me happier and healthier.
Using the bus or train is not unequivocally good (nor bad).
Of course it depends on your particular situation, but I live about three miles from the office so it's a fifteen-minute drive. If I bike, it's more like 45 minutes, I'm in constant danger of getting killed by idiot drivers, and there's a very big hill. If I catch public transport, it takes anywhere from half an hour upwards, it's filthy, often late, and I gotta share personal space with people I'd rather not share personal space with.
Nope, when you live three miles from work in a city with bad traffic, often-bad weather, and one very big hill, you're much happier if you're driving.
I didn't like how much of my life was being eaten away by commuting, even though it was on the train and I would use the time to listen to podcasts, music, or play games. I'd also get less sleep than I like because I'd stay up late to make up for lost time and get up early to make it to work semi-on time.
I now have three options: 1) drive for 35-60 minutes at a cost of $27-$34 per day ($16 for gas [my camping truck was never meant to be a commuter vehicle], $11 for parking, and a new $7 toll which I can opt out of for a more congested route). 2) Buy a car with better gas mileage, which would be the same duration, but cheaper. 3) ride the bus for $5 per day.
Now the thing is, I'm very lucky. It turns out that there is an express bus from my town straight downtown to a location close to my workplace. This sounded perfect. In practice, it has been punishing. The bus ride itself takes exactly one hour. Getting to the park and ride and walking to the office adds between 15-30 minutes depending on timing. So I have upwards of 2.5-3 hours of my day lost every single day.
I've tried coding on my MBA. I've tried podcasts and music. I've tried reading my Kindle. Nothing works. This article may cite questionable research, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is absolutely true.
I know I'm lucky, but if you have the opportunity, even for less money, I could not recommend it more.
I just moved in with my girlfriend, and we chose the small 2 bedroom apartment option, with a 20-minute commute by foot for me - it makes all the difference.
We'll probably choose a house when we have children, but for childless couples, I don't see why you'd need the space (I believe people tend to accumulate too much stuff - we had to throw away or sell a lot of things!)
Now I'm a 20 minute walk to work and 2 minutes from the gym. That might be the best part of the job, even in cold Canadian winters.
I'm totally spoiled, though. I've never had a car commute except for a couple of years in university.
I feel much better than when I was driving but making a 30 minute commute.
Not only is the bus more interesting, it gives me time to think and read sometimes and even meet girls.
Plus the excercise really gives me a boost for a full day of programming.
(Employers: showers are a cheap perk that pay off bigtime in the long run.)
I'd prefer a 1h driving commute on interesting/high speed roads (i.e. interstates at off-peak hours, or something like HWY 17) to a 30 minute public transit commute or stop-and-go driving commute.
I'm currently job-hunting, but recently turned down a promising interview simply because it was 50m away, with no traffic at all. I'll take a train for that same time with no regrets, but driving it? No thanks.
Not commuting enhances your life, gives you more time with your loved ones and time for your hobbies, while commuting, usually gives you nothing but waste. Yeah, you listen to your Spanish course; you'll learn Spanish from a good teacher in a few hours faster than months of sitting in your car.
Personally I don't understand people who commute more than 30 minutes, but that's just me. People who commute for over an hour simply have a problem with their life, goals and relationship.
I work from home. :)
So do I, since 1996, and they couldn't drag me back into commuting at gunpoint.
No offense meant; I'm sure you mean it sincerely.
I suspect it's often used as a rationalization for becoming rich. Either way, I don't trust it.
Common sense, anyone?
Sorry, that kills too. Also, medical research has been shown to cause cancer in rats.
It's also a problem for the whole society when the sustainability of such a daily feat becomes a burning question. A dystopian view of doubling the price of oil and commuting will be not only painful but also ridiculously expensive.
Cities with a relatively good train/tram network and dense neighbourhoods grown around train stations/tram stops will be in big favor at that point.
Check the comments of people who are commuting by bike or by walking. Commuting that way feels like freeing your mind and exercising. That's why it doesn't feel like a waste of time. Same for the people who are programming or reading a book in the bus or train.
Commuting will not kill you. Wasting time will.
you can't beat that!
I have turned down a number of jobs before because of a tricky/long commute (if I can't ride there, I am not interested), which has confused a number of HR/Agents. I value my time too much (unless they are paying me 1/4* as much, but they never are. Companies that are further away from the city (I always live near the center), are usually cheap in other ways too.